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A virus infection Stephanie Connor acquired during pregnancy put her unborn daughter at significant risk for brain damage and lifelong hearing loss.
At age 1, baby Madeleine was completely deaf in her right ear and her hearing was severely lost in the left, said Connor. But a simple experimental procedure that Connor enrolled in for Madeleine may have restored her hearing and reversed her condition. In January 2012, Madeleine, 2, became the first child to undergo an experimental hearing loss treatment through an FDA-approved trial at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center that infused stem cells from her own banked cord blood into her damaged inner ear. Within the last six months, Connor says she's seen a dramatic improvement in Madeleine's ability to hear. For more than two decades, umbilical cord blood transplantation -- either by a baby's own cord blood or another's, depending on the type of procedure -- has been used to treat otherwise fatal diseases including blood disorders, immune diseases, and some types of cancers. Infusing cord blood stem cells into the body may also have the potential to heal and regenerate damaged cells and tissues. Regenerative therapy using cord blood stem cells is currently being studied as therapies to treat conditions including cerebral palsy and brain injury.
For the first time, doctors are experimenting with cord blood stem cells to regenerate hearing in children who have suffered hearing loss.
This yearlong study will follow 10 children, including Madeleine, ages 6 weeks to 18 months, who have acquired hearing loss and who have banked their cord blood with the Cord Blood Registry.
Since Madeleine is part of a study that is currently under way, it's unclear whether Connor's perceived improvement of Madeleine is really due to the stem cell procedure. Madeleine has already had one follow-up appointment to test her speech and language development, which are indicators that her hearing has improved.
Fakhri said it's still too early to determine whether the procedure benefitted Madeleine, or may be beneficial for other children.
If the study results show significant improvement overall among the collective children studied, children with acquired -- not genetic -- hearing loss, may be able to benefit from the procedure. Connor said the improvement she has seen so far is enough that she is grateful that she enrolled in the trial, and she hopes the study will prove to be beneficial in repairing hearing loss so other children can be treated successfully.
Whenever you look at the child’s ears, especially in the newborn, the toddler, we really need to make sure that the child is responding to sound.
It’s often missed, because the child may not make audible sounds or simple cries that would be indicative of a hearing loss as the child matures or grows.
As you see here your newborn child or you look at the developing child, please just take a moment and make sure that they’re responding equally with their head responding to the source of the sound. A simple test is to just touch in front of the ear or just behind the ear very, very gently and see if there’s a withdrawal response or a fussiness associated with that.
Commonly, it may be misconstrued because of the teething that’s often associated with that timing. When you look at a child that has an earache or an ear infection that’s actually been diagnosed, we can take a moment and look inside the ear with an otoscope. When looking in the ear, for those who are clinicians or even parents who’ve had some experience looking in the ear, you always hold the scope and look into the ear from a direction as if the canal would come at an angle toward the opposite jaw.
Also, when you look into the ear canal you’ll see redness and irritation that can be noted as otitis media, or the middle ear, or otitis external where you see this inflammation outside of the ear. The eustachian tube is an equalizing pressure mechanism that allows an open channel of communication for drainage to occur from the back of the ear into the back of the throat. If it gets more and more swollen, then once we get to a four the tonsils will almost kiss, or, in other words, touch to where it feels like it’s blocking the airway and, also, the ability to swallow. This will give that sound that some people have noted almost like a clicking sound when you swallow or try to open your mouth and you hear a little click, click sound. When you observe that presentation, that eustachian tube will fill up with a waxy type of a material like a blockage that we consider either not truly wax but more of a mucus type of a blockage. The most common thing that we see as an irritant for that is when the young child has begun too soon on dairy, particularly cow’s milk. What will happen is the GI system will develop an irritation or antibodies against that, which causes inflammation in the lymphatic tissue throughout the GI system. One of the first recommendations, when you see a child is in immediate distress associated with that blockage, we want to get them off of dairy for a minimum of two weeks to allow that tube to open up again. The next thing that we look at is when you are aware that there is a fever with an earache.
The pediatricians now have acknowledged that the antibiotic used for ear infections has been way over-prescribed in years past and, consequently, will lead to other consequential infections. There are a couple of homeopathics that are very, very effective up-regulating the immune system and targeting viruses that commonly afflict the ears and will cause that fever and the red inflammation associated with the ear infections. When you look in the adult or the teen child, you’ll see large tonsils that have what look like craters of the moon presentation.
Now they’re on this cycle of an every three to six month antibiotic through their toddler and into their young pediatric life up to age eight. This is where we start to see more consistently, again, the dairy sensitivities, the gluten intolerances or grain intolerances, and then the other intolerances that lead to leaky gut.
What are some things that we could do to actively engage their body in healing rather than trying to take care of, in the moment, their immediate distress?
A simple temporal thermometer, excellent to be able to quickly evaluate the child’s temperature. Remember that Eustachian tube that comes to balance or allow pressures to be regulated in the back of the throat to the ear canal itself is called the Eustachian tube. The chewable Congaplex is potentially a means of helping to eradicate the antibiotic resistance staph infection with its co-infection of strep. If you want to set an upper limit of that goal, once you’ve checked their temperature and you monitor that, with that staying in that 102, 103 range if you feel safe there. While a hearing aid helped to amplify some sounds for Madeleine, it would never fully repair the damage in her ear. Samer Fakhri, associate professor and program director in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, and principal investigator of the study. Fakhri says it's likely that if the procedure works, children like Madeleine will have long-term restored hearing. A newborn infant will respond more quickly to sound even than before their eyes begin to track.

Again, the parent may miss, but then, as developmental delays in speech become more apparent, that hearing may be we’re missing the ability to actually communicate. If there’s pressure in that ear, the child will often respond adversely or directly to that. Commonly, though, what we see is that the pressure has built up in there, and it’s not able to equalize. Inside or behind that tympanic membrane are three small bones that, actually will then oscillate based on concussion of waves that hit the tympanic membrane, and then give a reflex to the internal ear that gives us the sense of hearing.
If you notice a child that has a severe ear infection, they may even be tipping or feel off-balance. As you look into the back of the throat, you’ll see what we call the pharynx, or the uvula, hanging down. What’s very interesting is, again, you view that tympanic membrane from the observation of looking into the canal. Either the retropharyngeal tonsils, those tonsils behind may also have tonsillar tissue that’s adjacent to that, will block off or squeeze down that retropharyngeal space where the eustachian tube comes in. As those tonsil tissues and that retropharyngeal space is opened, it will make almost a kissing or a clicking sound. Some researchers and some pediatricians or clinicians will refer to that as a glue ear, meaning that wax or that mucus will start to create a plug in the eustachian tube.
Congaplex has a great benefit in the adult who’s had this history of chronic ear infections to eliminate that type of an infection. Now, we have an antibiotic resistant staff, and it’s companion becomes the strep infection. Then, commonly, what ends up happening is the tonsils are removed because of the kissing tonsil presentation and the recurrent strep throat. Ibuprofen, if you need, is a better choice to be able to treat that fever if you need or to reduce the pain or de-stress the child. When we look again for the child who’s in distress, we want to check their temperature. Keeping your child’s temperature, remember, below 104 is really a healthy temperature.
When you look at that, the baby’s temperature at 102, the baby is not in distress or in any distress or potential neurological injury. Parents, when you’re looking at your child, make sure that your child is able to hear, respond to the source of the sound. Is there so much pressure that that cone of light now is flattened and you don’t see it well-demarcated in the ear or if there’s actually fluid behind the tympanic membrane or ear drum itself? That Eustachian tube can often be blocked by inflammation associated with the virus, can chronically be blocked by a food sensitivity and most commonly find that to be dairy in the young child. In developmental states, there may be some other things that could develop some food sensitivities but then we’d be looking more for the eczemas or the vomiting.
It’s difficult, at times, to ascertain is this really an earache or an ear infection.
Because there’s often a fever linked to ear infections or earaches, the child may, then, have that irritation.
Also associated with that inner ear is the ear canals that have to do with our sense of equilibrium or balance. That type of an inner ear congestion is linked as we go beyond that canal to what we call the eustachian tube. The tonsils here, in the back of the throat, are a reflection of what’s happening in the body. The challenge, though, is when we introduce the antibiotic too soon in the child’s life, we create an antibiotic resistant strip or staff infection. When we look at staff infections that are old and antibiotic resistant, their number one pal becomes the strep infections. The biggest thing that I see consistently is when we have tonsils and adenoids removed is we develop lower and upper GI distress. What are the things that we’re feeding them in order to assist their well-being into life and into adulthood?
When we’re looking at the Eustachian tube and the condition called Glue Ear, we actually are looking at a more common allergen associated with dairy.
For those parents, who even in themselves, know that in past, they’ve had a long standing infection, we recommend Congaplex for the adult.
Thanks for taking the time to listen to this and share this information with you, and your family, and your friends. As you look into that left side, what you should see is that the ear itself will have a presentation where the membrane or the tympanic membrane should have a grayish color to it. When the light shines into the ear, there will be a cone of light that’s directed forward in the ear. We start to grade it as a one, a two, a three, or a four, breaking that canal up into four regions. That phlegm can build up, if you will, or that mucus will build up into that eustachian tube, causing then the glue ear. A sustained temperature above 106 for greater than four hours is really a concern, but up to 104 is safe. This one is just a swallow-able capsule versus in the young child who may have had the history of ear infections but still can’t swallow a whole capsule.
Specifically, we’re talking about the ears and the importance of protecting the ears, and then what to do when a child experiences an ear infection.
In other words, you’ll see what looks like a little triangle, or a cone, that points forward in that canal. Tylenol’s, according to pediatricians now and acknowledge by the pediatricians, Acetaminophen as the Tylenol chemical formula impairs liver functions.

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